Internets on a Plane! (and service blocking)

I fly UA quite often and regularly get internet on my flights. The speed and connection quality is quite acceptable considering that we’re traveling through the air and talking through some satellites. The rate is also quite reasonable - $1.99/hr for the slow lane and $3.99/hr for the fast lane.

However, on my last two trips, the following things have been blocked:

  • VPN access - I typically use a VPN when I travel to protect my wifi traffic. As the access points are unencrypted, I prefer to encrypt and route my traffic through a trusted host. It seems that they’re blocking most of the gateways for my VPN provider.
  • web.skype.com — Although I understand that you can’t really support VOIP, text chatting over the Skype web interface should be perfectly acceptable. I’d like to avoid installing Skype on my nice Linux laptop.
  • XMPP blocked - again, text chatting should be acceptable. TCP to ports 5222 and 5223 are blocked.
  • UDP to ports 60000+ is blocked. This means that I’m unable to use MOSH to connect to my home servers. I often chat through IRSSI + Bitlbee running on a server in my house.

I verified that in each case, the service I was trying to connect to was up.

Finally, I noticed that the feedback form was not protected by SSL. This should be the default on every website these days.

Overall the service gets a solid B. I was eventually able to find a VPN host not on the block list and was then able to access all of the necessary services.